APTN National News
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday said Canada’s relationship with Indigenous peoples was based on “science.”
Trudeau made the statement during question period after he was pressed on Ottawa’s perceived inaction on the ongoing Muskrat Falls controversy which has seen occupations, protests, RCMP raids and arrests.
Trudeau said during question period it is up to the Newfoundland and Labrador government to consult and engage with the Innu, Inuit and Metis on the project.
“The relationship with Indigenous peoples is extraordinarily important for this country, based on respect, based on science, based on partnership,” said Trudeau. “That is why we are ensuring that the province continues to consult and engage on this project with the full respect that we all expect will be shown towards Indigenous peoples.”
Mulcair, who usually leads the round of questioning for his party in the House of Commons, referred to a recent comment by Newfoundland and Labrador Liberal MP Nick Whalen who suggested the Innu and Inuit should just eat less fish if they’re worried about methylmercury poisoning. Whalen later apologized.
“Hunger strikers and their supporters travelled all the way from Labrador to bring concerns about Muskrat Falls to the prime minister here in Ottawa,” said Mulcair. “All they got in return was a flippant, insulting comment from a Liberal backbencher…What is the prime minister doing, specifically to address the concerns raised by the Inuit and Innu about poisoning of their fishery with methylmercury?”
Inuit hunger strikers Bill Gauthier, Delilah Saunders and Jerry Kohlmeister are currently in Ottawa to meet with MPs about their concerns about the project’s impact on their traditional foods and way of life.
The protests against the Muskrat Falls hydro-electric project in Labrador was triggered by science following a Havard University report that warned flooding caused by the dam would cause methylmercury to seep into the fish and land if the flood zone wasn’t cleared of topsoil and vegetation.